1 A Young Man's Desperation

<Final Notice Before Disconnection>

What arrived at the mail today served as a death sentence for the young man. The words, "Final Notice before Disconnection.", was akin to a thunderbolt crashing down from the heavens towards his heart and soul. 

"So, this month is finally the last. I wonder... what should I do once everything is over?" The young man mumbled in a voice filled with bitterness. He turned around and stared at the cold, and dark living room. where only he alone existed. 

But everything wasn't like this three years ago. Before both his parents died in a freak accident, this living room was filled with smiles, laughter, and mirth. But now, three years later. Not even a trace of that era could be found. And this month, the end of that era would finally arrive.

Last month was Joseph's eighteenth birthday. When he turned eighteen, he aged out of his parents' pension that he relied on so that he could live properly after both his parents died. 

Thankfully, the companies eyeing his parents' properties gave him a grace period so that he could prepare everything he needed for his departure. 

The young man's family wasn't rich, nor they were poor. In fact, his parents amassed enough wealth that they could live using their empire of properties when they finally retire.  

But sadly, when the second death anniversary of his parents came... 

Notices started appearing, and Joseph realized that both of his parents not only gathered enormous wealth but also debt that thankfully wasn't passed on to him fully. Unfortunately, due to that debt... 

Joseph now had nothing on his name. 

In the last year before he would grow out of his late parents' pension...  

Joseph became thrifty. 

He saved every cent that he could, but everything was so expensive in his country that his small savings would undoubtedly become zero and he would inevitably become homeless if he changed nothing in his status quo. 

The only silver-lining that served as motivation for Joseph was the world of Victory. A VRMMORPG that was finally available to the public two years ago.  

When Joseph saw that money inside the world of Victory could be converted into real money... 

He instantly bought the most expensive Gaming Capsule and also bought a one-month membership of the game, thinking that he could recoup all of his investments in just mere months by grinding. 

But unfortunately, the world of Victory was more unforgiving than he thought. Since money within Victory could be converted into cash for the outside world. Crimes were rampant, Joseph frequently suffered from player-killers and not only that, monsters only had a certain chance of dropping money. 

Out of a hundred monsters, you'd be lucky if you could pick up at least five copper coins. If converted into real-world cash, that five copper coins of yours were only about five dollars. What's worse was that hunting a monster could easily turn deadly if you made a single mistake. 

It was basically like Dark Souls but harder if you're not athletic in real life or fat. 

Each and every monster was incomparably formidable for Joseph that didn't even have any proper equipment. Using the equipment provided by the game towards newbies, Joseph could hunt a hundred monsters in twelve hours and he would only earn about five dollars or so on average. 

The monthly amortization for the game membership was about a hundred dollars a month. Joseph earned about a hundred and fifty dollars for a month.

It was enough for the game membership, but it wasn't enough for maintaining payments on his parents' house and the monthly cost of electricity due to operating the Gaming Capsule. 

Within the past three years, Joseph suffered too much. Too much for a young boy who was still at a young age of fifteen. Although now, he was eighteen. 

Holding the Notice Letter within his hand, Joseph gritted his teeth and crumpled the paper. Tears welled in his eyes and it fell down his cheeks. 

"Mother, Father... Why did you have to leave me alone?" Joseph cried silently on the couch. 

After a short while, he sat down and stared at a family portrait where he along with his parents looked happy. Before that sudden accident, everything was perfect for Joseph. He had everything that a child could ask for and he knew that he had a bright future. 

But the heavens were envious of lucky ones. Within just a few weeks, Joseph's world turned outside down. Now, he had nothing to rely on. Nothing, but himself. 

Standing up, Joseph washed his face and headed upstairs. No matter what happened, he must protect this house, this house where every memory that he had with his parents was created. He must not let those greedy bastards take this precious house and sanctuary of his. 

He entered the world of Victory once again. 

Once he logged in, a commotion appeared among the players within Victory. 

[Oh, look at this, guys! That suicidal bastard is finally back?] 

[Wait, he's back? I thought he's finally giving up!] 

[Bro if he wanted to give up, he would've done it a long time ago. Now that there are only a few days before the event ends, do you really think that he would want to give up and waste his efforts since last month?] 

[Hahaha, yeah right. Let's see, let's see!] 

[Count me in! It's always fun seeing bastards like him that do not know the difference between heaven and earth dying miserably.] 

[What the hell? You're disgusting for thinking of that man...] 

[Who cares?] 

When Joseph returned to the world of Victory. His eyes flashed with determination once again.

Ignoring the gazes of schadenfreude around him...

Joseph signed-up once again for the Festival of Battles event. The name itself was pretty self-explanatory, but Joseph didn't care about the fighting at all. 

He only cared about getting the jackpot of about a million dollars if he managed to defeat that cheeky brat at the end of them all. 

[Are you sure that you want to join the Festival of Battles?] 

"Yes!" 

Joseph replied and a ray of light engulfed his body. 

When everyone saw what happened, they screamed in delight. 

[Here he goes! Here he goes again! He entered the Arena again!] 

[Let's go watch!] 

[Hahaha, Like I told you guys, everytime that bastard goes online, he does nothing but enter the Arena. He doesn't even go outside and level himself up.] 

[In that case, he must be pretty desperate for that million dollars, eh?] 

[Definitely, but isn't he stupid? Hoping to win that million dollars, does he really think that the game would easily give him such a huge amount of money?} 

[Yeah right, but how many times has he been to the Arena already?] 

[Oh, mister. This must be your first time seeing such a circus show, right?] 

[Yeah, I just came here from the neighboring city. I heard that the Festival of Battles here was still going on?] 

[Oh, you came from a neighboring city? Could it be that you're also thinking of fighting in the Festival of Battles, mister?] 

[Yeah, that is why I'm here.] 

[Then in that case, I'll advise you mister that you shouldn't join the Festival of Battles in this city.] 

[What do you mean?] 

[Well, take that young man for example. He has entered the Festival of Battles for about 342 times already. He always arrives at the top but in the end, he also always fails when facing that Great Magician.] 

[What did you say? 342 times? In that case, I understand why all of you are calling him stupid. The entrance fee alone for the event costs ten dollars, and if he did that 342 times. That meant that he already spent about 3420 dollars for nothing...] 

[That amount of money isn't something cheap and that further confirms that he's stupid. That guy always shows us a good show so I can't miss watching him die, Hahaha!] 

"You dare challenge me? How dare you!" A man who looked to be at the age of thirty glared dangerously at Joseph. 

Joseph coldly snorted to himself: "Dare challenge you? If not for the fact that I would have to start from the bottom before going up, then I would've directly challenged the last boss that had the jackpot on her head!" 

Joseph went forwards and met his opponent in battle. Since he has entered this Arena for several dozens of times already and his enemies never changed. He already knew their attack patterns, and how they moved. 

"He's going to attack my foot so I must jump, then jump dodge to a somersault and thrust towards his heart from behind." 

He quickly made his plan and the NPC slashed at his foot, aiming to restrict his mobility.  

However, Joseph knew what the NPC wanted to do in the first place. Dodging was easy and he merely jumped, stepped on the NPC's head, somersaulted in the air then thrust his sword at the NPC's back for an instant kill. 

"Ah! Impossible!" The NPC screamed in despair and his body turned into innumerable light crystals which eventually scattered into nothingness. 

"Ah? Impwosibble!" Joseph copied the NPC's words in annoyance, it was really irritating that the lines spat out by these NPCs stayed static and never changed even though he had met them for dozens of times already. 

The next NPC in line that would fight against Joseph entered the Arena and said: "Oh? A new challenger?" 

"Ow? A new Chyallenger, my ass!" The NPC didn't even finish his introductions as Joseph instantly killed him with a few steps and a slice at his neck. 

Joseph repeated these events a few times before he finally arrived at the last boss where he was stuck since last month. 

[The Great Magician Lilibeth has entered the stage!] 

Joseph's nerves pulled tautly and he readied himself for the next battle. 

"There's only a few days left in the Festival of Battles event. Before the event ends, I must defeat her and claim that prize!" Joseph reaffirmed his resolve as he took a stance. 

At the same time, a meteor came crashing down from the skies. It exploded right in front of Joseph, and Joseph who knew what would happen had already laid his body flat on the ground so he would avoid damage from the flying debris 

When he stood up, he assumed his stance once again and what greeted him was a cold maiden that had a detached look on her face. She stared right into Joseph and said: "You're finally here, Challenger." 

Joseph was instantly irritated once again. 

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